We have all heard the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” For most of us, I suspect the
message is, “don’t be superficial.” A person’s outward appearance is NOT an accurate reflection of their character, abilities, or morality.
Do you know where else appearance can be deceptive? Your health! We tend to operate with the idea, “if you LOOK good- you ARE good.” And even though, I think there are some clues about health we can gather from appearances, they are only guesses. Many of us can readily name a professional athlete, a health influencer, or someone we thought was in
good shape who abruptly passed away at a young age of a heart attack. It is shocking to hear because they are relatively young (mid-forties or sometimes younger) and because they looked great!
So how can the cover look so good and the book have a problem? Well, we
need to discuss metabolic health. One of the biggest drivers of disease in our country today is visceral fat. Typically, when we hear about fat we are usually thinking about body fat, which is the stuff we can see in the mirror. Visceral fat, however, is the lipids and fat that build up in and around our muscles and organs. Think of this like marbling in a steak. All the visceral fat contributes to insulin resistance.
Let’s tackle insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone our body makes to regulate our blood sugar
levels. When we eat a meal, sugar levels rise. Insulin levels will also rise to h
elp push sugar into basically two places: our muscles (90+%) and our liver (4-5%). Whatever is left in our blood stream fuels our brain.
It’s important we keep blood sugar levels normal (70-99) because when sugar stays high it causes
inflammation in our blood vessels. Inflammation over time destroys the vessels and blood can’t get to our organs to keep them healthy. If you’ve ever wondered why diabetics can be plagued with so many health issues: blindness, heart attacks, kidney failure, infections, amputations; it all boils down to the effects of inflammatory damage to blood vessels.
Insulin resistance occurs when our muscles and liver have difficulty storing all the sugar in our blood stream. Our pancreas has to make more and more insulin to force the sugar into the cells. So, insulin levels start to rise long before blood sugar levels do. This insulin resistance is the first steps toward becoming a type 2 diabetic for many people. But the inflammation and damage to your blood vessels doesn’t start when you become diabetic, it started before a diabetes diagnosis. The inflammation and damages have already started! Problems like insulin resis
tance and inflammation precede diseases like diabetes and heart attacks by years and decades.
Unfortunately, insulin also promotes fat storage. When insulin levels are rising to deal with higher
sugars, your body will be encouraged to store more and more fat. It is a problem that digs its own hole!
What can we do with all this information? Well knowledge is power my friends! The earlier a person knows if they have unsafe levels of visceral fat and/ or insulin resistance the quicker we can course correct away from things like heart attacks and diabetes. There are simple tests to detect these problems early. Impedance testing is a type of test that can measure visceral fat and give you a very good idea of where your levels are and are you improving with interventions over time. There are also tests your doctor can do to look for early insulin resistance. These are blood tests that measure your insulin levels compared to your blood sugar levels. Remember, if your doctor is only checking your blood sugars, you can be a long way down the path of insulin resistance and inflammatory disease before your sugar levels start to
If your family has a history of problems like: Early heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes (especially adult onset), or sleep apnea then you might be at higher risk for visceral fat and insulin resistance issues. Get it checked out! Let’s make the book and the cover match up!
Next, lets investigate how sleep (or lack of) impacts our health! Stay tuned!